Equestrian: Gore to host southern dressage

The Gore A & P Showgrounds will be filled with the South Island's best dressage riders and horses this weekend.

Dressage Southland is hosting the South Island championships and the entries lists are filled to the brim with quality combinations.

As well as riding for South Island titles, combinations will be scoring points towards national accumulators.

Most exciting is the depth of quality in the higher grades.

Fifteen combinations are entered in the level 6-7 championship and it appears to be an even contest, with no outright favourite heading into the event.

Balclutha's Jenny Affleck will be competing for the first time this season on the evergreen Boss II after a trip to the London Paralympics, where she groomed for Anthea Gunner.

She will meet stiff competition from defending champion Tracey Johnson and Apollo 4, who are committed to making the trip from their Marlborough base.

Three young riders are also entered and are sure to be keeping their more experienced competitors honest: Siobhan Fauth and Hollywood Superstar (Canterbury), Hannah Johnston and Just Hollie (Otago), and Kate Maclean and Oscar Del-Lahoya (Central Otago).

Dressage Southland has been buoyed by the support of local businesses and the willingness of riders to travel to Gore for the event.

The competition starts at 10am tomorrow and prizegiving is scheduled for Sunday at 1pm.

The top-level and colourful musical freestyle classes, in which horses and riders dance individually choreographed routines to music, are on Sunday morning.